Using digital tools to communicate health messages effectively

Carolyn Loton

Background: Health literacy, “the ability of individuals to gain access to, understand and use information in ways which promote and maintain good health”, has been identified as a key driver of improved health outcomes. The National Strategic Framework for Chronic Conditions (Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council 2017) acknowledges health literacy as an important component of the health system. Key strategies to improve health literacy include reducing jargon and making information understandable for the reader.

Aims: This project aimed to develop two oral health promotion resources. The consumer-focused resource aimed to improve understanding of the progression of gum disease and tooth decay. The health professional –focused resource aimed to improve understanding of Cochrane review-level evidence for the use of fluoride products in reducing tooth decay.

Methods: Both resources incorporated minimal jargon, reduced words, use of images, illustrations and dynamic digital tools to engage and demonstrate the information clearly. The consumer-focused resource was produced using digital flip-book technology and animation. The health professional resource incorporated an infographic PDF style. HRec /ethics approval was not required as this project involved the knowledge translation of well-respected existing academic research (Cochrane review, WHO Guidelines).

Results: Resources will be launched, shared widely and be made freely available from early 2021, after which feedback will be sought from oral health professionals.

Conclusions: Careful planning, skilled reader-centric copywriting and professional graphic design are considerations that can improve readability and reduce the use of jargon language, while remaining evidence-based.